Washington Nationals: Team stronger after Doolittle and Madson trade

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 06: Sean Doolittle
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 06: Sean Doolittle /

With seven decent bullpen arms, the Washington Nationals chances of success are stronger come October. Unless they get an amazing offer, this is it.

The Washington Nationals now have quality bullpen parts, we hope.

By trading for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, the thought is the Nats have the pieces in place to cobble together games come October. Both pitchers will earn a long audition to see which peg fits in their designated hole. Although Doolittle is the better closer option on paper, we know Dusty Baker goes on feel and will mix and match.

Because Washington kept their core prospects in this deal, speculation is running wild another trade might happen. The Nats never talked to Baltimore about Zach Britton and did not hear what they wanted with Miami over David Phelps and AJ Ramos.

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With Joe Ross on the shelf for a year minimum with his upcoming Tommy John surgery—along with other closers still on the market—the Nats can make a deal before the deadline. But, with the added payroll this year and next as well as over the competitive balance tax limit, expect little.

Remember, the team as constructed before the trade has 55 wins in the bank. Without Jayson Werth, Adam Eaton, Trea Turner and Michael Taylor, they can score 10 runs seemingly at will. At some point, all but Eaton will return this year. It is the offense that carries the load with tremendous starting pitching as the support.

What Madson and Doolittle bring is further backup.

If the O’s change their mind and want to listen to a pitch for Britton or the Toronto Blue Jays offer Roberto Osuna, then trade away. Until that daydream happens, this is a stronger unit today than before the All-Star break.

Lost in all the teeth gnashing with blown leads and such is how well Matt Albers, Oliver Perez and Enny Romero are pitching. Matt Grace nabbed a pair of saves against the Cincinnati Reds. There is a sausage-making element to the bullpen, but add a few peppers and mustard and you have a good sandwich.

Throw an improving Joe Blanton into the mix and you have seven decent arms to match the starters. How it fits together remains to be seen. As long as the Nats carry a huge lead in the NL East, it does not matter. This trade was for October. They will miss Blake Treinen’s ability to induce double plays, but not him walking hitters with no one on base.

Next: Treinen gets fresh start in Oakland

The Nats are a work in progress. So is everyone else. What we have is closer to the final product. On paper, it is a plus.